Three: When Life Goes On...
A STARLIGHT WEDDING
Chapter Two: Spying For The Enemy
It was the day following Violet's wedding, and, wanting to get away
from the chaotic scenes back at the Starlight Mansion, Topaz and Sylva
had headed out to the beach to enjoy some sun, sea and sand, and make the
most of their remaining free time. They would be back in the studio the
next week, to lay down the remainder of their new album, "Exotic", and both
girls knew from experience that this would mean long days and early starts.
"Huh?" Sylva glanced up, startled, at this, and Topaz cast her a grin.
"And on another planet." She said, amused. "Syl, what's bugging you?
Are you thinking about Jack? I know you play here with Courtenay a lot...you're
not still moping about him and Melanie, are you?" She indicated her companion's
attire. "I can always tell when your mind is elsewhere - you wear last
month's swimwear instead of your newest purchase."
Sylva looked sheepish.
"I didn't even notice." She admitted, glancing down at herself. "Oh
well. This is a stunning bikini, so I don't suppose it matters
"Is it Jack, on your mind?"
"Well, perpetually." Sylva rolled her eyes. "But no, that's not what's
on my mind. I'm sorry, Topaz, I didn't mean to be distracted. I was just
thinking over something, that's all. Something that happened at the wedding
"Vi's reception? Last night?" Topaz looked startled. Sylva nodded
"Yes." She agreed. "And before you asked, no I didn't get drunk, and
no I didn't wind up in bed with some guy." She dimpled. "I saw those
questions coming, but I'm not that heartbroken over Jack that I'm going
to seduce someone young, cute and available. Even though there were
some hotties at Vi's wedding and I did get my fair share of dances."
"Okay, then what? Something bad?" Topaz sprawled out on her towel,
resting her chin in her hands and eying her friend quizzically.
"I don't think so." Sylva shook her head. "I can't tell you about
it, Topaz. I promised faithfully that I wouldn't and I keep my word. I'm
just getting my head around it all." She sighed gustily. "It's been a
month for revelations and discoveries. Copper's infertility, and now her
engagement. Melanie and Courtenay, your pregnancy...and now this. My brain
can't handle all of this information at once!"
"Well, put it out of your mind for a moment, huh, and come with me
to the sea to paddle?" Topaz begged. "I'm hot as anything and the sea looks
so nice and cool and blue..."
"Okay, you convinced me." Sylva grinned, getting to her feet and slipping
on her flip flops. "I'm game. Wanna race?"
"No, I do not wanna race!" Topaz shook her head, laughing. "It's too
hot to be running anywhere!"
"Spoilsport." Sylva poked out her tongue. "Okay, then. We'll walk
down to the water's edge in a very mature and sedate manner, shall we?"
"And hope we don't get jumped on by groupies in the process." Topaz
agreed. "That's the one down side to being a star in these parts. You're
"Too true." Sylva rolled her eyes, as they headed down the sand towards
the lapping waves. "I love being adored and followed and all of that stuff,
I won't lie and pretend I don't, but I do mind the paparazzi, and I do
mind people appearing out of nowhere at awkward moments." She grimaced.
"Plus, I really don't like disk signings."
"Me either." Topaz admitted. "I joined Jewel to sing, not to sign
my names in a variety of sizes, styles and colours. But I suppose with
every job there is a good and a bad side. And...well, I'm glad of the income.
With the baby and everything, I'm going to need it."
"It stinks that you can't tell him." Sylva looked sympathetic. Topaz
pursed her lips.
"More than I can ever put into words." She agreed. "But I'm getting
used to it. It's funny, you'd think I'd want to spend every second with
him at the moment, because of not seeing him again for so long, but really,
it just hurts to be near him. I have to act out a role that I'm not feeling.
I want to throw myself on him and beg him not to go back to England...I
also want to tell him everything and have him take care of me. When I passed
out before Vi's wedding, I was so close to telling him everything when he
was there, playing the strong doctor student. I dunno." She shrugged. "I
love him so much that it hurts knowing we won't be together very much longer."
"Are you going to break up with him before he leaves?"
"I...don't actually know." Topaz admitted. "It might be wrong of me,
Syl, but I'd kinda like to have one last goodbye on good terms. Perhaps
I'm being selfish, but I want to have something to remember him by."
"You'll have the baby." Sylva pointed out. Topaz nodded her head.
"I know I will." She agreed. "But I'm determined never to love the
kid because it reminds me of it's father - only because of who he or she
is themselves and because they're a part of me. I don't want to ever let
this baby feel in the situation I was. Mom always said she loved me because
I was a piece of Dad, but then she remarried and it was like she didn't
love me any more because she didn't love him anymore. That's not going to
happen with my baby."
They reached the water's edge at that moment, and, after a few moments
paddling in the waves, the two musicians settled themselves at the water's
edge, allowing the cool ripples to wash over their feet and ankles. Neither
one of them noticed a familiar figure not far off up the beach, for Stefana,
stealthy and well practiced had concealed herself behind a wind breaker
as soon as she had realised two of her hated foes were at the water's edge.
She was still sore about Aaron's reunion with Copper, and the success of
the Starlight wedding, though she did not yet know her friend was engaged
to his chosen sweetheart, and she was in good humour to try and spite Jewel
any way she could.
"Feels cooler." Topaz observed. "I guess it's the Canadian in me -
I wasn't bred for this heat."
"I was born in Los Angeles, and I wasn't bred for it, either." Sylva
grinned. "Mind you, I grew up in Washington DC, so that might have something
to do with it." She shrugged. "I dunno. I've never felt Californian, even
though Mom is."
"Raises an interesting question, actually." Topaz looked thoughtful.
"When this baby is born, Syl, what nationality will it be? It's father
and I aren't of the same nationality, and it will be born here in Los Angeles
- which neither he or I are natives of, if you think about it. Do you think
Immigration will have issues with the kid's nationality, because I'm Canadian
and need paperwork to stop here?"
Behind the windbreaker, Stefana's ears pricked up at this new, tantalising
topic of conversation.
"Don't you get nationality where you're born, if you want it?" Sylva
asked. "I mean, Copper's Mama was born in Mexico, but Copper isn't Mexican
- she's American."
"Mexican American, though." Topaz frowned. "Oh well. I suppose the
baby will have to have an exotic mix of nationalities in it's blood, and
be done with it." She grinned. "I guess if he or she is registered as being
born in Los Angeles, California, then she or he will be entitled to a US
passport." She groaned. "Boy, will it be easier when I know what sex this
baby is! I hate calling it 'it', and it's so bothersome saying 'he' or
'she' all the time."
"Well, you're too early along yet for anyone to know." Sylva said
with a shrug. She grinned. "I'll admit, Topaz, I'm excited about this
baby Jewel, too. I know you didn't plan it and it just happened, but I
love kids and it'll be so neat to have a baby to coo over."
Unseen, Stefana crept away up the beach, her mind whirling with what
she had heard.
"So that slut Topaz is knocked up, is she? What a surprise." She mused
to herself as she slipped into the driver's seat of her car, putting the
vehicle in gear and roaring onto the main road. "I wonder what the press
would make of that little piece of news?"
She frowned, biting her lip as something occured to her.
"Hang on a minute, though." She realised. "Topaz said that the baby's
daddy wasn't the same nationality as her...oh Hell, does that mean...?
Dammit, if it does, I am going to castrate him myself! Luca Ranieri, if
this is anything to do with you..."
She slammed her foot down on the accelerator pedal, deep in thought.
"Maybe I ought to be careful this time." She decided finally. "Last
time I dropped a scandal about Topaz in the press, it turned out the person
she'd had a drunken one night stand with was my big brother and I landed
him - and Diablo - in it too. Not good press. And if there's even a remote
chance that this baby of her's is Luca's - which I suppose could be possible,
you never know, he can be so indiscreet sometimes - then it's not going
to be the best idea in the world to leak the story to the tabloids. I'll
just wind up taking another pot shot at Diablo and not hurting Jewel. So-o-o...I
guess we have to find out first whether or not this baby belongs to Luca."
She grimaced. "God forbid. If it did, knowing Luca, he'd wanna play 'Daddy'
and I'd wind up being Aunt Stefana - sick, sick, sick. It had better not
be anything to do with him, else he is seriously going to regret ever having
"Meanwhile, I have an issue to settle up with Jesta. That girl said
she had the wedding taken care of - so well taken care of, apparently, that
it went off without a hitch. I want to know what she has on this Flame girl
that made her so confident of manipulating her, and I wanna know what went
wrong. Maybe we can use this information to get a low blow in, after all!"
For Stefana, to think was to act, and she screeched into the hotel parking
lot with little regard for an elderly gentleman who was crossing the concrete
at the time, and who was forced to move out of her way with an angry waving
of his stick.
"Oh, get a life, grandpa!" Stefana muttered, stepping out of her vehicle
and flouncing into the hotel, not bothering to even acknowledge the pensioner's
complaints. The lobby was fairly empty, and she stalked up to the desk,
banging her hand down on the bell and waiting impatiently for someone to
pay her some attention.
"Can I help, Miss?" Finally a young man came to the front of the desk,
casting her a smile. "Were you wanting to make a reservation?"
"No, I damn well wasn't, and you took long enough." Stefana snapped.
"I want Jessica Talley's room number."
"Look, my name is Stefana Ranieri." Stefana leant across the desk, fixing
him with a dark glare. "I am lead guitarist for Diablo, and Miss Talley
is an associate of mine. I have a business proposition for her, and if you
prevent me from seeing her, it could well harm her own career in the United
States music market. You wouldn't want that, now would you?"
"Uh...uh...Miss Ranieri, I'm sorry, I...I didn't recognise you." The
young man paled at the hostility in her green eyes, hurriedly flicking open
the big book of reservations and bookings and running his finger down the
relevant page. "Miss Talley's room number is 613. She hasn't signed her
key out, so she should be there. Would you like me to call up and tell her
"No...it's quite all right." A strange glint entered Stefana's eyes.
"She'll be expecting my call."
With that she turned on her heel, heading towards the lift and pressing
the button for the sixth floor. She tapped her toe impatiently as she waited
for the car to reach it's destination, all the time turning over in her
mind the best way to handle the situation.
"Well, she has some damn explaining to do, either way." She muttered,
as the big metal doors finally creaked back on their runners and she was
able to step out onto the neatly carpeted sixth floor of the hotel. "Now,
room 613. Hm. Bad choice of rooms, Jesta. Didn't anyone tell you thirteen
is an unlucky number?"
She scoured the doors as she walked along the corridor, finally finding
her destination and rapping sharply on the panelled wood.
"I don't want room service." A familiar, sulky sounding voice came from
inside, and Stefana's brows knitted.
"Either you can open this door, Jesta, or you can forget ever being a
star in the United States, because I will make sure your name never gets
heard!" She threatened.
There was a moment silence, then a thud, and the lock on the door was
pulled back. Jesta pulled it open, sending Stefana a venomous glare. Her
lip, the guitarist noticed, was split and bruised, and she half wondered
if someone had already beaten her to it.
"What in hell do you want?" The English girl demanded. "I thought you
didn't want to be seen meeting me!"
"I don't. This is business. You screwed up and you owe me an explanation."
Stefana pushed her way into the room, shutting the door firmly behind her.
"And unless you want a couple of black eyes and a broken arm to go with
your fat lip, you can damn well sit down and quit giving me attitude. I
wanna know why your perfect scheme to ruin that damn wedding didn't work!"
"It wasn't my fault!" Jesta flared up. "And you know, if you hadn't have
gotten involved, I would probably have managed it, too! Your interference
distracted me, and anyway, I didn't expect Flame to have a sudden call
of conscience! She went running to one of her so called friends and I got
"You'll be damn attacked again, if you don't stop annoying me." Stefana's
eyes glinted dangerously. "You don't know me very well yet, Jesta, which
is why I'm not going to go for you for that. This time. But people who know
me know not to mess with me. I have a nasty temper and I don't care who
gets hurt so long as I get my way. This is a ruthless business and I can
help you become a star here as well as on your stupid island. But I'm only
going to do that if you start proving to be worth my time, and giving me
lip isn't gonna help you any there!"
Jesta eyed her companion darkly, but she seemed to realise that, at least
where the American music market was concerned, Stefana had a point, so
"What do you want from me?" She demanded. "I already owe that Flame bitch
bad for getting me thumped at the wedding, what else are you gonna land
"If you can't do it right, Jesta, I'll have to do it for you." Stefana
said simply, sitting down on the bed. Her green eyes were contemplative,
and Jesta eyed her suspiciously. "However, I still have a use for you."
"I'm not your slave, you know. I have my own backers and I can make my
own name in showbusiness without you." Jesta told her coldly. Stefana laughed.
"I am not a good enemy to have." She said softly. "Do you want to take
the chance and find out exactly what I mean? We both have a common aim
- we both dislike those goody two shoes musical wannabes who usurp top
spots on our respective charts. They're friends. They work together. That's
why we should, too." She shrugged. "It's better to be on the same side
as me, after all. You never know what might happen to you if you don't
- you're too far in now to turn back, and I have a lot of contacts in the
press who'd be interested in the girl who tried to sabotage the wedding
at the Starlight."
"That wouldn't do you any favours either!" Jesta spat out.
"I have a powerful PR machine and Rory Llewelyn would handle it." Stefana
shrugged. "People don't mess with me. Noone would take any notice of what
you said. You're nothing without my help here, and you know that." She
settled herself more comfortably. "What I want from you is simple. I want
to know precisely what it is you have over this Flame girl. She worked
once on a Diablo video and she's got a bitch of a temper - thinks she's
something - but she seemed your average slutty dancer to me. What's so big
that you thought you could use it to control her?"
"Why should I tell you?"
"Because if you do, I will give you all the PR contact information you
need to build a career in the United States." Stefana said silkily. "Phone
numbers, emails, the right people to get in touch with and those to avoid.
I will give you all of this and you will be a star in America."
"And what do you get?"
"I get the chance to cause some pain." Stefana's eyes narrowed. "Flame
also works on Jewel's videos, you know, and I have it on good authority
that there's to be a new one of them in the pipeline. I have some nice Jewel
dirt, but I'm curious about this. Something big enough to ruin a wedding
has to be something to cause a wide ranging stir...and have implications
for that bitch group."
"Well, I think you're deranged, to be quite honest." Jesta said bluntly.
"But sure, if you like, it works for me. Besides, there's more of a juicy
link with Jewel than you think." Her eyes sparkled maliciously. "It also
involves that wimp of a video artist they use. Zoe, that's her. I've met
her occasionally - she's a drip."
"She's a pain. She kept us till midnight once because she couldn't be
bothered to keep an appointment." Stefana remembered. "Okay, this gets better.
"I want your word, first, that you will do whatever you can to help my
"The information is in a folder in my room." Stefana said with a nod.
"I swear." She moved her hand swiftly across her chest. "Cross my heart.
I give you my word as a Ranieri that it will be yours."
"Well, then it's simple." Jesta shrugged. "Flame and Zoe are an item."
"An item?" Stefana's eyes almost popped out of her head. "You mean..."
"Yep." Jesta snorted. "You got it. Our precious pair of idiots are gay.
And...I have proof!"